McCaw is the mobile industry billionaire behind AT&T-owned McCaw Cellular, one of the first successful cell phone providers. A NextNet Wireless representative would not disclose how much McCaw's Com Holdings invested but said that Com Holdings led the round of funding.
NextNet makes equipment that delivers high-speed Internet access to areas where the geography prevents connections using telephone lines or fiber optics. Earlier versions of so-calledequipment failed to rouse much interest from broadband providers because the antennas blasting the access through the air had to be within line of sight of receivers on a home or office rooftop.
Equipment from NextNet, BeamReach Networks, Navini Networks and IPWireless solves that problem. As a result, interest from carriers and investors is on the rise. Broadband providers in Ireland and Korea, as well as U.S. Web providers Verizon Communications, Sprint PCS and , are testing various manufacturers' fixed-wireless equipment.
McCaw said in a statement that he chose to invest in NextNet because he believes the Minneapolis, Minn.-based company "will be a leading player in the broadband wireless industry." A representative for Com Holdings could not be reached for comment.
The NextNet announcement follows a $15 million investment in rival BeamReach Networks by Goldman Sachs Group and other investors earlier this year.
McCaw is a major shareholder of cell phone carrier Nextel Communications and satellite company ICO Global Communications.